Ord Expansion

Kimberley’s beauty will be lost forever if Rangeland reform not prioritised: Greens

Thursday 11 October

The WA Greens have called on the state Government to heed advice on the governance and ecological sustainability of our state’s pastoral lands, after the findings of an audit tabled to Parliament yesterday revealed decades of policy failure.

Environment and Lands spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said it was clear in the report released by the Auditor General that the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) was no longer able to fulfil its environmental responsibilities, leading to a serious decline in rangeland condition across WA’s iconic outback.

“The PLB is reliant on Limited Lease Monitoring to assess rangeland condition, which has declined from a frankly unacceptably low 15 per cent of all leases assessed in 2009 to now less than 3 per cent,” Mr Chapple said.

“We’re seeing significant decline in rangeland health over the last 50 years or more and whilst the Auditor General has identified some avenues for rectifying the issue, the Greens believe much broader reform is needed to solve this outback crisis.

“In the Kimberley, the government has identified that many pastoral leases are experiencing declining rangeland conditions and acknowledged there is no obligation for ecologically sustainable practices under the current management.

“In questions to Parliament last month the Minister identified 17 pastoral stations at-risk in the region across all rangeland conditions with no management plan to address these declines.

“Many of these pastoral stations include at-risk populations of Bilbies, sensitive wetland areas and other fragile ecosystems that have been in significant decline for decades with limited progress towards halting this decline.

“A serious change in policy is critical if we are to preserve our precious Kimberley for future generations and tourism aspirations, and I call on the new Labor Government to prioritise rangeland reform.”

Kimberley Pastoral Leases identified as being in serious decline:

-          Alice Downs

-          Bedford Downs

-          Billiluna

-          Bulka

-          Christmas Creek

-          Koongie Park

-          Lake' Gregory

-          Lansdowne

-          Lissadell

-          Moola Bulla

-          Mt Arnhurst

-          Mt House

-          Nerrima

-          Rosewood

-          Springvale

-          Texas Downs/Mabel Downs

-          Yeeda


The Question on rangeland condition asked by Hon Robin Chapple MLC on 12 September, 2017 is attached.

Ord Expansion

The Ord-East Kimberley Development Plan is the result of a National Partnership Agreement between the Australian and Western Australian Governments. Total funding in 2009 to 2013 was in excess of $515million. The development plan is an extension of Ord Stage 1, which was established in 1962 and comprises 14,000 hectares of irrigated farmland.

Government Slips Deeper into Sticky Ord Mess

Greens WA member for the Mining and Pastoral Region, Robin Chapple MLC, today renewed his criticism of the way the Grylls-Barnett government has handled the Kimberley’s Ord expansion project.

“When the current government first got involved with this project, I was at least prepared to give them credit for touting this as a food-bowl scheme.

“But very soon it became clear that all we were going to get was a choice between various exotic schemes, at the fringes of bona-fide agriculture, and very far removed from genuine food production.

“Now, no matter how they try to dress it up, it has come down to a taxpayer-funded biofuel for export plan.

“History shows that large-scale irrigation schemes lead to land degradation and other problems, and we will be left footing the bill to fix up the mess.

“The Kimberley needs sustainable industries, with regional community owned enterprises to increase regional employment and support local small business, not another large foreign-owned business siphoning short-term profits out of the region.

“To try to make a case for the Ord River Expansion as a project which benefits the Kimberley is a furphy. In fact the massive taxpayer investments are largely going offshore, and doing little to support regional industry or aboriginal enterprise.

“Before any more money is thrown into this mess, the government should publicly release a full cost benefit analysis of the project, with particular emphasis on the whole-of-life, long term environmental and social costs to the local community, and the impact it has on cultural industries, aboriginal tourism enterprise and other local or community projects.

“What good is this to the Western Australian people? A few jobs here and there are hardly worth the millions spent on the development of this scheme”, Mr Chapple concluded.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

Selling off the Ord for a little Sugar

Robin Chapple MLC, Greens WA spokesperson for the Mining and Pastoral Region, today condemned the Grylls-Barnett decision to hand over the right to develop 13,400 hectares of prime Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project land to Kimberley Agricultural Investment, an Australian company wholly owned by the Chinese real estate company Shanghai Zhongfu.

“This is a curious decision, not least because Shanghai Zhongfu is a construction and real estate company, with no experience in agricultural ventures,” Mr Chapple said.

“Far from being used to grow food, as has been suggested for years by Mr Barnett and Mr Grylls, almost the entire Ord irrigation area will now be dedicated to growing sugar, exporting sugar and producing sugar-based products such as ethanol and fibre board. So much for the much touted ‘food bowl’.

“To allocate large tracts of land to foreign investors above the interests of Australian companies, which are likely to yield little, if any, food or financial dividends to the Western Australian community is ludicrous. It can hardly be called a ‘local’ economy stimulation package.

“The Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project has cost Australian taxpayers more than $500million, the vast majority of which has been Royalties for Regions funding.

“Shanghai Zhongfu has been awarded a 50-year lease at a peppercorn rent of the new Ord Expansion Project area that was developed with taxpayers’ money.

“In encouraging broad-scale monoculture, this government is not working towards Australia’s food security, nor promoting local growth and resilience.

“It is allowing a project largely dependent on public money to be wholly controlled by foreign investment. What good is this to the Western Australian people? A few jobs here and there are hardly worth the millions spent on the development of this scheme.”

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